Fireproof – thoughts
After hearing about this movie for months, and hearing about how great it is, I finally broke down and watched it last night. I will say up front that it was an entertaining film and absolutely had a “feel-good” message that is easy to want to identify with. I must say, however, that I’m glad that I didn’t buy it or rent it.
You can view the whole movie online at YouTube in 10 minute segments beginning here.
Several decades ago, A. W. Tozer wrote a little piece called, “The Menance of the Religious Movie.”
Within the last few years a new method has been invented for imparting spiritual knowledge; or, to be more accurate, it is not new at all, but is an adaptation of a gadget of some years standing, one which by its origin and background belongs not to the Church but to the world. Some within the fold of the Church have thrown their mantle over it, have “blessed it with a text” and are now trying to show that it is the very gift of God for our day. But, however eloquent the sales talk, it is an unauthorized addition nevertheless, and was never a part of the pattern shown us on the mount.
I refer, of course, to the religious movie.
Fireproof fits many of the descriptions contained within Tozer’s message: bad acting, unprofessional cinemagraphic techniques, simplistic storyline, and, worst of all, a weak gospel presentation. By a weak gospel presentation I mean that the presentation of Christ and His work became simply a means for Caleb to salvage his marriage. In the producers’ last movie, Facing the Giants, the message of God’s redemptive plan seems to been made a method to win football games, gain self-confidence, resolve fertility problems, and improve material “blessings.”
It was note-worthy that the name of Christ was not mentioned at all in Fireproof. Additionally, Caleb’s Christian walk seemed represented solely by reading the “Love Dare” book. We never see him turning to the Bible for help, nor do we see him in the proper Christian context of a scripturally-sound local assembly as he tries to get established in his faith. Everything seems to revolve around the Love Dare book, and how that will help him save his marriage.
Lastly, true to Hollywood-esque stories, everything was resolved for him, and he lived happily ever after, and the whole process only took 43 days. That presents an unrealistic view of how things will proceed if you “accept” Christ.
Questions I would have for the producers of Fireproof, and Kirk Cameron.
- Why was there no real gospel presentation to the Caleb Holt character?
- Where was any mention of Jesus Christ (the only name given under heaven whereby we may be saved?)
- Where was the influence of the scriptures in Caleb’s life?
- Why leave the impression that all will be well in life if you just give your life to God?
- When Caleb supposedly got “saved,” why was it referred to in the movie as being “in”? Caleb asked Mike about his faith, and said, “I’m in.”
Where was any mention of being born-again or conversion or salvation? What does being “in” mean?
Imagine a possible real-life scenario with me.
Caleb gets “saved” by the presentation that says he knows he needs to get his life straightened out and salvage his marriage, so he needs to ask God’s forgiveness for the bad things he’s done.
He continues to try to do the things in the “Love Dare” book, but his wife continues to reject him. She tells him, “I want to make this very clear. I don’t love you.”
He finishes the 40 days of Love Dare, and at the end of it, heads to the courthouse where the divorce is made final. His ex-wife has taken the house, the cars, and the court has imposed a hefty alimony payment upon Caleb. Caleb struggles to make the alimony payments and lives the rest of his life trying to make ends meet. Caleb struggles with depression because “God let him down,” and he gives up on this “Christian stuff” after a couple of years.
Why was he set up to fail in his Christian walk, and how can I invent such a scenario? First, he was set up to fail because his situation was made the motivator for becoming a Christian. Curiously, Kirk Cameron, in his work with The Way of the Master even preaches against this very type of gospel presentation because of the failure it inevitably produces.
Second, how can I imagine sucha a scenario happening? Because I have seen it happen. I personally know people who have “received” such a gospel, and then when persecution or trials or troubles arise, as they always do, they question why God would let such a thing happen to them and the insincerity of their profession is revealed and they fall away. A friend of mine from high school went through something similar. When I knew him in school, he led a wicked life, but then he had an experience with something that led him to believe that he was a Christian. He even then got a job at Focus on the Family. But soon after, he became disillusioned with his Christian life, left his wife and children, then went deeply back into his life of sin. He recently committed suicide.
My purpose in writing is not to bash Fireproof. I admit, it was entertaining, and I did like the message of saving marriages. Again, however, as Mr. Tozer says, “The religious movie embodies the mischievous notion that religion is, or can be made, a form of entertainment.”
p.s. Did anyone else catch the subtle idea of the main characters’ names? Caleb is a derivative of a Hebrew word for “dog,” while the name of his wife was Katherine, and her nickname was “Kat.”